While Vivid co-founder Steven Hirsch, Wicked Vice President Joy King, and Digital Playground’s Jesse Jane seem to be required by law to appear in every documentary about porn, CNBC’s “Business of Pleasure” was an expose I would feel comfortable showing to a journalism class.
It was more fair and balanced than the past dozen or so sweeps period basic cable reports, and stuck to its business theme throughout the broadcast.
Claiming the biggest threat to the adult industry was the rise of tube sites and free content, Steve Hirsch was depicted approving promotional posters and checking out the anti-piracy work of Vivid production manager Shylar Cobi in segments as staged as any World of Wonder production.
Hirsch even had a logline of his own. Smiling brilliantly, he said, “Porn has been around since the caveman. It. Is. Not. Going. Anywhere.”
But for its laudable objectivity and host Melissa Lee’s ability to say things like “wet dreams” and “big breasts” without sounding traumatized, the doc didn’t say anything new, other than revealing Jesse Jane’s real name to be Cindy Taylor – which the star admitted herself.
There was also some footage of a 1979 anti-porn demonstration in New York City and the testimony of Michael Leahy, a “self-diagnosed porn addict.” Digital Playground’s Robby D chose to have his face obscured for his interview, in which he confessed to having two homes and sending his 3-year-old to the “best school in the Valley.”
Even America’s Beloved Porn Journalist is not invited to Robby D’s sets; I am told because of some perceived failure to truly appreciate the man’s work. But the CNBC doc was typical of other mainstream incursions in that the network was granted access denied people like me.
The best segments were those featuring Max Hardcore’s final hours at home prior to surrendering himself to a Los Angeles detention facility and a visit to Jesse Jane’s home outside Oklahoma City; The unmasking of “Cindy Taylor” required a greater Hulu audience.
Sponsors such as Charles Schwab pulled out of CNBC’s informative but relatively non-titillating expose, but Hulu’s hosting of the special was proudly sponsored by the Toyota Prius, Smirnoff Vodka, and Plan B, a morning after pill.